This post is part 6 in a series where I post excerpts from the book Old Paths New Power written by Daniel Henderson. I resist making a commentary on the book. Rather, I pull out excerpts that caught my attention at this stage of my pastoral journey.
Chapter 6: Leading a Powerful Culture of Prayer
E.M. Bounds: Satan has effectively disarmed us when he can keep us too busy doing things to stop and pray. Page 106
For many years, Woody has made his strategic plans for ministry, hoping God would bless his leadership team in what they’re trying to accomplish. He described the process as “trying to breathe life” into all the programs they designed. Page 107
We had been trying to make Acts 2 happen, but suddenly realized Acts 1 came before Acts 2. Page 108
1. A culture prayer is not a program. Prayer culture is not a prayer program. Page 109
The pastors I work with are learning that launching additional prayer “programs” can tend to attract the same small group of prayer-motivated participants but solicit minimal participation from the majority of the congregation. Page 109
2. A culture of prayer arises at the epicenter of leadership. A prayer culture always emanates from the epicenter of church leadership. Page 110
The quantity and quality of prayer at leadership meetings is the essential indicator of the amount of prayer that will eventually rise among the congregation. Page 110
There’s a difference between gathering to “pray about things” versus quality time spent seeking God’s face. One approach fixates on telling God what is on our minds. The other seeks to discover what is on his mind, best experienced by worshiping and praying from the Scriptures. Page 110
Speaking to this concern among church leaders, pastor Donald McDougall writes, “If the church wants to succeed in its God-given mission, it’s a leadership must realize that one of its greatest needs is more prayer meetings, not more planning meetings… The purpose of their meetings is not to come to consensus about running the church but to wait upon God to find out how he wishes his church to run.” Page 111
3. A call for prayer thrives on experience above explanation. Page 112
Here is a helpful principle: the all-church prayer meeting is seldom the engine of the prayer culture in an already established church, but it can eventually become the expression of the prayer culture. Page 112
When forming a prayer culture, it is best to build the sidewalks where the footpaths already exist. Page 112
4. A culture of prayer is rooted in community.
A prayer culture is rooted in clarity and conviction about community. Page 113
In our Western civilization, marked by “rugged individualism,” we have essentially amputated our corporate prayer leg and are pretty lame on the private prayer leg. Page 113
5. A culture of prayer stems from a powerful, enduring motivation. Page 115
The only enduring motive for prayer is that our never-changing God is worthy to be sought. Page 150
6. A culture of prayer props supernatural mission advancement. Page 150
A culture of prayer is always aimed toward the supernatural fulfillment of the great commission…The apostles are seen seeking the Lord then experiencing fresh passion and power to accomplish his gospel calling…As Albert Reed has said, “prayer is intimacy with God that leads to fulfillment of his purposes.” Page 115-116.
I have learned that if you are a missionary church and not a praying church, you risk the possibility of sending money in missions but without the power, blessing, and reward that only comes by the Holy Spirit. If you are praying church and not a missionary church you have prayed amiss, allocating the purpose of personality to personal needs rather than Christ’s call. Page 116.
7. Building a prayer culture takes time.
Building a prayer culture takes time…and relentless pressure over time. I often say that it is much more a Crock-Pot than a microwave. Page 117
I defined discouragement as a temporary loss perspective. Page 118
Al Toledo, pastor of the Chicago Tabernacle, reminds us that “the commitment of the few can secure the blessings of the many.” Page 119